Expansion Charlotte fires coach Ramírez after slow start

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Charlotte fired coach Miguel Angel Ramírez on Tuesday just 14 league games into the season.

Ramírez was hired by owner David Tepper to lead the Major League Soccer expansion club and was dismissed after five wins, eight losses and one draw in league games. The team advanced to the round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup, winning two matches before losing to the New York Red Bulls last week.

Assistant coach Christian Lattanzio will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Ramírez became the third coach in the 28-team league fired this season, following San Jose’s Matías Almeyda on April 18 and D.C.’s Hernán Losada on April 20.

No explanation was given for the firing.

“This is a difficult decision, but one we feel is best for the team at this time,” Tepper said in a news release. “I want to thank Miguel and his staff for their hard work during our first season and wish them the best in their future endeavors.”

Assistant coach Mikel Antía, head fitness coach Cristobal Fuentes Nieto and first team video analyst Luis Piedrahita also were fired. Goalkeeper coach Andy Quy will remain on staff.

“We appreciate the contributions of Miguel and his staff to our Club, and wish them well moving forward in their careers,” Charlotte sporting director Zoran Krneta said. “We are excited about this opportunity for Christian. He is a very experienced coach who has made a tremendous impact on our squad this season.”

It’s unclear if Ramirez’s outspoken nature played a role in his firing.

Before the season began, Ramirez said in an interview that Charlotte was “screwed” heading into its inaugural season after failing to acquire some of the talented players he had coveted.

It’s not entirely uncommon for Major League Soccer teams to fire coaches in their first season.

Since the start of the 2019 season, six full-time coaches have lasted one year or less: Cincinnati’s Alan Koch and Ron Jans, Montreal’s Thierry Henry, Inter Miami’s Diego Alonso, Toronto’s Chris Armas and Atlanta’s Gabriel Heinze. Another expansion coach who failed to last more than one season was New York City’s Jason Kreis.

This is the second time in as many jobs that Ramirez has been fired midseason; he was terminated by Internacional of Brazil despite going 11-7-4.

Some soccer teams have been able to recovery quickly from such moves. Tottenham fired its manager 17 games into its season before battling back and finishing in the top four in the Premier League. And Nottingham Forest sacked its manager after just under a year in charge and went from last place to being promoted to the Premier League this past weekend.

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